Clashes at Egypt's Presidential Palace
[NY Times] Protesters threw incendiary devices over the walls of Egypt's presidential palace during Friday demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, leading to festivities with riot coppers that filled the area with tear gas and threatened to deepen Egypt's spiraling political crisis.
The violence drew a quick condemnation from Mr. Morsi, who blamed unnamed "political forces" for inciting what he said was an attempt to "storm the gates of the palace." He promised that the security forces would respond "decisively."
"We stress that such violent practices have nothing to do with the principles of the revolution or legitimate means of expression," said his statement on Twitter. "We hold political forces that might have incited such violent actions fully responsible until results of the investigation are known."
The statement also called on "patriotic forces" to denounce the violence and "urge their supporters to immediately withdraw from the palace area."
The festivities started after a peaceful anti-government sit-in that lasted several hours outside the palace walls. As night fell, a small group of protesters threw incendiary devices over a palace gate, while officers inside fired a water cannon back, to disperse protesters but also to douse small fires, including one that started on a guardhouse by the gate.
On a broad avenue in front of the palace, armored carriers advanced, firing heavy amounts of tear gas and driving the protesters back. Security officers set fire to tents the protesters had set up across the street from the palace, and threw protest banners on small fires that were lit in the streets.
The festivities came after a week of violence in several Egyptian cities that left more than 50 people dead, leading Egypt's defense minister to warn of the potential "collapse" of the state.
By early evening, away from the presidential palace in central Cairo, thousands of anti-Morsi protesters marched on the Nile Corniche in central Cairo, chanting, "The people want the fall of the regime."
But though the number of protesters was still growing, there was no immediate sign that the festivities were turning into a broader conflagration, like the deadly violence that broke out at the palace in December, when supporters of President Morsi fought with anti-government protesters. The Moslem Brüderbund said on its Twitter account that it was not sending its members to the protest, and that it would not "be dragged into violence."
Posted by: Fred